THE WAY DEMOCRACY WILL BE
For Immediate Release
/ October 1st 2007

FairVote RI announces groundswell of support for youth pre-registration

Contact: Ari Savitzky, 401.529.3982, [email protected]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/01/2007

PROVIDENCE– Today, FairVote, the non-partisan national organization that seeks to realize our democracy's potential through practical reform, announced a broad coalition of support for HB 6215, a bill allowing citizens to pre-register to vote when they turn 16 years old. Sponsored by Rep. Edwin Pacheco, the bill passed overwhelmingly in the State Senate (29-3) and the House (46-19). It was cosigned by Reps. Picard, Diaz, Rice, Handy and Segal. Governor Carcieri vetoed the bill in June.

FairVote RI Director Ari Savitzky announced the growing list of supporters, which includes the RI AFL-CIO, Ocean State Action, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, NEA RI, The Childhood Lead Action Project, AFSCME Council 94, the Brown College Republicans and Youth in Action, in a letter from FairVote to the members of the RI General Assembly. The letter asked members to "forge a clear path for the override of Governor Carcieri's veto."

"It is critical for young people to be involved in decisions that affect their lives.  This policy is a great example of how Rhode Island can approach youth civic engagement," said Adeola Oredola, director of the non-profit Youth in Action.

Rhode Island is ready: At a rally at the Statehouse on Monday, activists and organizations called for the over-ride of this along with several vetoed measures.

"No one that I've talked to has been able to understand the reasoning for the governor's veto," Savitzky said. "Our central voter registration system would allow these young people to pre-register without skipping a beat, and registering in structured environments like schools and the DMV could increase the accuracy of our voter list."

A lifetime of participation: Research shows that young voters who vote in the first election in which they are eligible are more likely to vote throughout their lifetimes. Those who miss voting in their first election risk falling into a pattern of apathy.

The bill, Rep. Pacheco said, "would help younger generations become engaged in their democracy, making it easier for them to vote as soon as they become eligible and allowing their voices and their issues to be heard."

Sen. Josh Miller, one of the bill's supporters, noted that pre-registration could "increase voter participation, especially if we act now and capitalize on the excitement of 2008 political season."

A growing national trend: Pre-registration of young people is already law in many states, including Maine, Oregon, Minnesota and most recently Florida, where a Republican Governor signed this bipartisan bill into law. Currently, people under 18 can register to vote in Rhode Island only if they will be 18 by the next election.

"In the long term, this could also increase the quality and quantity of political participation in Rhode Island," said Dennis Grilli, of AFSCME Council 94.

A list of organizations supporting HB 6215 includes:
  • Clean Water Action RI
  • Association of Federal State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 94
  • Childhood Lead Action Project
  • Rhode Island Democracy for America (DFA)
  • The Family Life Center
  • Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE)
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 99
  • Ocean State Action
  • The Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM)
  • Rhode Island State Nurses Association (RISNA)
  • RI Public Interest Research Group (RIPIRG)
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 615
  • Teamsters Union Local 251
  • United Food and Commercial (UFCW) Workers Local 328
  • Rhode Island United Service and Allied Workers (USAW)
  • Brown University Democracy Matters
  • National Education Association (NEA) RI
  • RI AFL-CIO
  • Brown University College Republicans
  • Youth In Action

For information and comment, contact Ari Savitzky at 401.529.3982 or [email protected]

FairVote RI
21 Lincoln Avenue , Providence, RI 02906
Ph: (401) 529-3982 * Fax: 360.933.2456
[email protected] * www.fairvote.org/ri

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